Staying Confined Space Safe

There are countless terrifying stories concerning something going wrong in a confined space. Oxygen displacement leaving multiple fatalities, colleagues attempting rescue only to be overcome by the same gas hazard – in fact, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 60% of confined space deaths are among “would-be” rescuers.

However, with industry 4.0 and digital transformation sweeping through the industrial arena, there are new and better solutions for confined space entry and safety.

What is “Confined Space”?

What is considered a “confined space” varies by industry. OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:
• Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
• Includes material that has the potential to engulf anyone who enters
• Features walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward, tapering to a smaller space that can trap or asphyxiate an entrant
• Comprises any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress

So, for construction, this may be manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks; for manufacturing, it may be pipes or ductworks; for aerospace, it could be cargo areas, aircraft wings, or even cockpits in the case of elevators.

Confined space is a broad term spanning the full breadth of the industrial sector, thankfully there are advanced solutions to help keep workers safe.

Confined Space Safety Technologies

With connected worker technology, industrial IoT platforms, and other advanced solutions there are a wide array of safety technology options available for confined space entry. According to our friends at United Safety, there are five components that are key to confined space safety:

  1. Access control, such as control access zoning through geofencing and lockout tagout.
  2. Communication, having the ability to transmit messages and stay connected is paramount in hazardous space work.
  3. Monitoring, real-time access to worker conditions, location, and environmental data can make all the difference.
  4. Hazardous Gas Detection, having a connected gas detection solution is important in confined spaces. Knowing the gas hazards that could be present in a confined space is critical for reducing risk.
  5. Centralized Command Center, having a single command center, such as Guardhat’s SCC, that ties in the different data streams and where safety managers can have visibility into their workers and react quickly in emergencies is key in ensuring confined space worker safety.

Safer Together

Confined space safety is a concern for many industries. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), confined spaces make up 3% of non-roadway fatalities, with 30% of workers reporting being exposed to confined space entry and 13% of organizations stating that confined spaces had contributed to serious workplace injury. It is not surprising to find that in addition to the above statistics, confined spaces are also the leading cause of multiple fatalities in the workplace.

To move forward in confined space entry and safety programs organizations must put the emphasis on people-centric solutions, solving the real-life day-to-day issues faced by workers. Using advanced safety solutions such as gas detection, worker condition monitoring, and real-time location services is paramount. Pairing these solutions with worker-focused platforms creates an Industrial Internet of People (IIoP) where wearables and other IoT technologies work together to give visibility into workforces is the next step on the path to safer workplaces.

About Guardhat

Guardhat is pioneering end-to-end connected worker safety solutions for industrial workers. We offer cutting-edge, wearable technology; a proprietary connected worker platform – unrivaled in its ability to ingest, manage and analyze unstructured data; easy-to-deploy monitoring and reporting software; and a growing system of partner integrations.

Guardhat enables companies to monitor worker location, health, and work environment to shorten reaction time and help proactively solve safety challenges. We hold 15 patents in real-time location systems, wearable solution design, and connected worker software.

If you are interested in our connected safety solutions – including situational awareness, environmental and biometric monitoring, multi-modal communication, RTLS, Covid-19, and other advanced technology solutions – contact us to arrange a demo.

About United Safety

United Safety provides industrial safety products, safety consulting, and safety training to ensure that the workforce and public remain safe. They service both the Upstream and Downstream sectors of the Oil & Gas industry offering plant turnaround safety services, safety solutions for onshore/offshore drilling and well-servicing activities, integrated risk management, safety technician services, and construction projects safety services.

With global operations, United Safety is at the forefront of industrial safety equipment technology that includes breathing air systems and gas detection systems, along with innovative safety services for customers with multi-disciplined contract workforces – interested in their services, contact them here!

About NSC

The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, they work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway, and impairment. Contact us if you would like to learn more!


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